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Nov/Dec 2010 Issue

Feature Sections

  • Q & A - Tips
  • Video Review
  • Bruin in the Kitchen - Recipes
  • News & Notes
  • Spotlight On: Newfoundland & Labrador
  • Bear Association News
  • Bear Essentials - Gadgets & Gear
  • Outfitters & Guides
  • Hunter Photo Gallery
  • The Bear's Den - Marketplace
  • Crazy Tales from Uncle Geddy & The Bear Mountain Gang


  • Muzzleloading with Chad Schearer

    Booking a Guided Hunt
  • Guns & Optics with Ralph Lermayer

    Firearm Never-Do's
  • Archery Talk with Bob Robb

    Brown Bear - Spring or Fall
  • In Hot Pursuit with Joe McCray

    Building a Pack by Adding Pups to the Mix
  • Scent Strategies with Dick Scorzafava

    Combatting a Bear's Sense of Smell



Bear Driving Tactics

By Stephen D. Carpenteri

Black bears are never easy to hunt, and even when using bait, hounds or sight-hunting, there is no guarantee for success. In many states, the only tactics that are allowed are still-hunting, stalking or driving. In Pennsylvania, for example, the most successful tactic is the multi-man drive, and apparently it works: most years Keystone State hunters tag some 3,000 bruins; in just three days of hunting!
     The most successful bear drives are not the same as your basic deer drive. It is often possible for one hunter to drive deer to one other hunter, and many of these silent, one-man drives put plenty of venison on the table. However, black bears are different animals that use different evasive tactics. They are fast, cunning, intelligent animals that can slip through the woods like the wind, silent as shadows, and if you are not paying attention they can walk right past you without notice.

     No drive for any species is going to work if everyone just lines up and wanders through the woods hollering at each other. Bears are adept at avoiding human contact, and if you make a lot of noise and walk purposefully from Point A to Point B, you will give them all the information they need to evade you all day long.



What are the Chances?

by Eric Forsyth

A do-it-yourself bear hunter experiences the highs and lows of the hunt.
     Two years earlier a friend told me if I drew a bear tag in the lottery he would let me bear hunt on his property. From baiting to providing a stand, he did everything for me that year. When the season was over my friend shook my hand, smiled and told me I was on my own now.
     Like many northern Minnesota bear hunters, I couldn’t wait for the opener. Since I didn’t own my own hunting land, I needed to start early to scout and secure bait sites.
     First, I visited Kevin who owned approximately 100 acres. This area would be a good start since I had shot my first bear not far away. I was granted permission and my friend wished me the best of luck.
     A few days later I went over to speak with Dave who lived along the border of state land. He assured me that bears were common in the area, and was kind enough to show me the main driving trails.
     I started walking the trails looking for the best entrance and escape routes; not for the bears, but for me. The acorns were not plentiful as this particular stretch of state land was predominately pine trees; however, the berries were in abundance. After three hours of scouting I picked my site.



The Wise Old bruin

By Richard P. Smith

One of the oldest wild black bears in North America is being monitored by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources personnel. It is a female that reached the old age, in terms of black bear longevity, of 36 in January of 2010. The fact that this particular bear has lived so long in an area where bruins are actively hunted is truly amazing.
     “In hunted populations of American black bears, few bears live to be 20 and fewer still live into their mid to late 20s,” Minnesota DNR bear researchers Karen Noyce and Dave Garshelis wrote in a report about this unique bruin. “Since the year of bear #56’s birth (1974), we have collected and aged 55,000 teeth from hunter-killed bears. Only three (0.005%) lived past 30; the oldest being 33.”
     The pair have radio collared more than 550 bears in the state during the course of various studies since 1981 and Bear Number 56 has so far lived 13 years longer than any other bear they’ve collared. Number 56 was captured and collared during July of the first year of their bear studies (1981). She was seven years old then and had three cubs.



Wait for the Smoke to Clear

by Craig R. Turner

Muzzleloading doesn’t have to be Rocket Science
     A deep thump and a cloud of smoke. Slowly the smoke lifts and…
     That’s the experience I was looking for as I considered taking up muzzleloader hunting.
     Loose or compressed powder? Conical bullets? Sabots? Primers – ML versions vs. regular 209? These are just a few of the myriad questions that came up when I decided that my next bear hunt was going to be with a muzzleloader. Rather than answer them all immediately (I have a full-time job you know) I took a different approach that I’ll share with you.
     I had considered adding a muzzleloader to my gun cabinet for a while. There are a lot of really good reasons to do so like extended and early deer seasons are offered in many states for muzzleloaders. My reason was not so well considered though, I just wanted to try something different and wait for the smoke to clear!
     Several months ago I made a decision to hunt in the spring of 2010 with Gil Quintin at Domaine Le Pic Bois in Eastern Quebec. I have worked with Gil for a year or so with his outfitting business advertising and really enjoyed our conversations. He is easy going, serious about his bear hunting and absolutely dedicated to providing his hunters a quality experience at a reasonable price.




Pick a Spot
By Karen M. Bernecker

After my husband, Art, climbed into his stand around two o’clock that afternoon, I settled into the long four-wheeler ride to my bear stand with my guide, Bill, driving us through some very beautiful county in Manitoba. As Bill pulled the four-wheeler up to the tree stand I turned and looked towards the bait, and there behind the trees was this beautiful cinnamon bear just looking at us. I tapped Bill on the shoulder, pointed and whispered “bear.”
     Bill looked at the bear and replied, “That’s a nice bear! Very slowly now, get up in the stand and I will hand you your bow and backpack.”


Good Bye Old Friend
by Scott York

It was one of those hot August afternoons with the temperatures in the mid 80s. I was standing at the bottom of a big pine tree that had a nice 150 pound black bear sitting in it. The bear was panting heavily and it was obvious that he was done. I wasn’t sure by the way he looked how he even had the energy left to climb the tree. He had good reason to be tired, he had just run a six hour marathon/obstacle course. At the bottom of the tree was Gunner, a 55 pound, tan colored package of grit, drive, heart and brains that make up the ingredients for a great bear dog.


by Guy Nixon

It all started in 2007 when somebody broke a bunch of  limbs off our fruit trees. Since our son Bryan and his friend Colton had been playing there the day before, it was logical for me to assume they were the ones causing the damage. When  Bryan came home from school I warned him that he and his friends better stop playing in the fruit trees. Bryan insisted it wasn’t the two of them.
     The next day after work I found a motion-activated game camera on sale at Wal-Mart, and bought it. No less than nine different bears were coming into the orchard at all times of the day and night to get fruit! I headed right to Bryan’s room to apologize.  




By Dave Henderson

No one lives here. Any human residence in this strip of boreal wilderness in Alberta’s northwest corner is temporary; invariably related to profession or recreation. An hour west is British Columbia; a couple of hours north and you are in the Northwest Territories.
     A few oil and gas workers spend time here, and a few hunters – a population that varies with the season. Even the waterfowl aren’t year-around residents. Mating pairs of buffleheads and mallards abound at this time of year on the small spring pot ponds and roadside waterways.
     Pat McLean’s Alberta Bear Busters spring tent camp is tucked on the east bank of the runoff-swollen Chinchaga River, 600 miles northwest of Edmonton in the province’s extreme northwest corner, a 45  minute drive west of the timber-oil/gas town of High Level. We are surrounded by a seemingly endless boreal forest of spruce, birch and poplar, all of which seem to top out at about 70 feet in height and maybe a foot, 18 inches at most, in diameter. These are likely aged trees, limited in girth by short growing seasons and root systems stunted by permafrost. It’s virtually all provincial land, dotted with leased oil and gas pump jacks and piping rigs. Any travel off the paved highway is via dirt roadways built and maintained by Exxon-Mobil.



Portable Bear Camp

By Larry Lightner

“I gotta do something to get my costs down so I can keep on hunting,” I pondered, as my thoughts drifted over to the dismal economy with no end in sight.
     I can’t afford the all too pricey bear hunts that the outfitters offer, even if they are “the good stuff.” That includes the local ones too, even though I realize that they must earn a living just like me. Then you add into the mix the ever-increasing cost of gas, food and lodging, and it looked to me like I would have to severely curtail my time hunting.
     No way!
     I decided that I needed a portable bear camp, one that was highly mobile yet light enough to haul around. It would have to accommodate my ATV, too.
     Yeah, a tent would fill the bill, but I’m getting long in the tooth and don’t much feel like roughing it any more. Besides, I am tired of too many years packing and unpacking equipment, especially in bad weather as I set up primitive campsites.



Big Tide, Big Bear

By Mike Bleech

After my spring black bear taken last spring in Maine made it into the Maine Antler & Skull Trophy Club, it would be difficult for my hunt in New Brunswick to produce a bear to top it. But it did.
     It was my first hunt to this area of New Brunswick, about 15 miles as the crow flies from the scenic coast and the Bay of Fundy National Park. My hosts were Larry and Ida Adair, owners of Adair’s Wilderness Lodge.
     Only two other hunters were in camp when I arrived, Steve Topper and Ron Vannesse, both from Connecticut. Vannesse had already taken his bear while Topper was waiting for the right bear to show up. He had considerable hunting experience, but this was his first spring black bear hunt, and he hoped to take his first bear.
     The weather was quite warm when I arrived. Not knowing the normal weather pattern, I wondered about timing. Was this early in the season, or had bears been out of their dens for a few weeks. This was one of the first things I asked Larry about.
     “Usually I don’t like to have hunters come in until this week,” he replied.



Why I Hunt Bears

By Ted Nugent

I hunt bears for the same reason I hunt deer, elk, moose, caribou, lions, zebra, kudu, hogs, turkey, pheasants, dove, squirrels, rabbits, quail, woodcock and bullfrogs–because I am a hunter. That’s all there is to it really. My genetic makeup is a direct descendant of Sitting Bull, and like him, if all the buffalo and deer and elk were to disappear from the prairies and forests, I would hunt mice, for I am a hunter, and I must hunt. Have you noticed that?
     All my hunting buddies feel the same way, no two ways about it.
     But as the year throttles onward, and once a few long beards were hanging after that powerful spring ritual was consummated, the bluegill filets were well stocked and I felt my annual hunt for morel mushrooms and wild asparagus, something in the air triggered another hunting urge that has become more powerful than ever in the last number of years, and my BloodBrother the black bear calls my name in a most compelling fashion.
     He needs me, and I need him.



Trail Camera Success

By Chad Schearer

Taking trophy bears doesn’t just happen. First you have to be in an area that holds big bears, and secondly you have to find exactly where these big bears are living and traveling. A good trail cam can take some of the guesswork out of scouting and help you zero in on the quality of bears you are pursuing.
     I remember hunting bears years ago, before the invention of trail cameras. On one particular hunt we had several active baits, but we were having a hard time determining what bait to sit over. So after a couple of unsuccessful nights on the stand we decided to make do with what we had. We found some sand near a lake and filled five gallon buckets with the sand and spread it around our baits. We then raked the area smooth.
     Next we placed threads across the entry trails that led to the stash of goodies. The next morning we checked the first bait and after examining the tracks in the sand found it was definitely a sow and two cubs hitting the bait. At another site we found a good track in the sand, but after seeing the broken thread we knew we had to tweak the stand in order to get a shot at a bear using that trail. Our efforts paid off and the next day we smoked a very nice black bear.